Canadian Lawyer

October 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 35 Top Immigration Boutiques Listed alphabetically Bellissimo Law Group PC Toronto bellissimolawgroup.com Mario Bellissimo, founder of Bellissimo Law Group, likes to refer to the work his legal team does as the "oncologists of immigration law." He says that is because the firm takes on the struggling cases that are "at the end of the road or have been unrepresented or under- represented." The result is that the firm has managed to build a reputation for helping shape immigration law in Canada. Bellissimo Law Group started as a general law firm in the 1990s before specializing in immigration law starting in 2002. Bellissimo says that, in close to two decades, it has devel- oped an expertise for complex litigation and dealing with inadmissibility cases for those applying for permanent or temporary resi- dence. Many of the firm's clients are other lawyers and consultants. The size of the legal team fluctuates between seven and 10, he says, with administrative staff bringing the team total up to about 25. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bellissimo says, the firm has been busy, espe- cially handling more cases related to self-iso- lation rules and issues crossing the border. And while a fair bit of litigation has been on hold for a while, that work is starting up again, he says. Bellissimo adds that immigration law can be complex because it "involves a lot of policy that is not exactly encoded in regulations or legisla- tion." Immigration law also segues into family law, criminal law and administrative law. "It takes years and years to become effective at it, and on top of that, it changes so rapidly you have to keep up with those changes." As a result, while Bellissimo Law Group is a full-service immigration law firm, it tends to focus on certain types of cases it knows it can do well. It also means it doesn't always take on all cases that it is offered. "We restrict the number of cases to ensure that we can meet the demands," he says. "That's one of the toughest parts — making those decisions on what cases to take because there is a lot of need out there." The firm also takes on pro bono work, including advising Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and COSTI Immigration Resettlement Services. Cases on which the firm has worked include Hassouna v. Canada, where the Federal Court struck down the government's authority to revoke Canadian citizenship from indi- viduals alleged to have obtained it through fraud or misrepresentation. Justice Jocelyne Gagné ruled this violated the Canadian Bill of Rights, as it deprived affected individuals the right to a fair hearing under the principles of fundamental justice. Bellissimo was also a lead advocate when Canada's medical inadmissibility system was under review. He represented the Canadian Bar Association before Parliament and was pivotal in the introduction of a fairer and more expansive national medical public

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